Although lead poisoning affects hundreds of thousands of children annually, it is preventable.
Lead poisoning is a disease caused by too much lead in the body. It is one of the most common environmental child health problems in the United States. Children from birth to age six are a greatest risk while their neurological systems develop. Long-term exposure to lead can result in learning disabilities, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, lowered IQ, irritability, and shortened attention span.
The most common source of lead exposure comes from the breakdown of lead-based surfaces in older homes built before 1978, especially ones built before 1950. If you live in a house built before 1950, you need to take precautions to prevent lead poisoning. Owners of residential rental properties built before 1950 need to comply with Maryland’s Lead Law. By doing so the owner is eligible for limited liability and failure to comply can result in significant penalties. Owner-occupants should consider lead paint when doing home renovations. Incorrect methods can poison children and adults. Parents should think about lead when selecting a home to buy or rent. Lead dust, often too small to see, accumulates in the home and the children ingest this dust by breathing or through normal hand-to-mouth activity.
Treatment for lead poisoning consists of identifying the source of lead in order to reduce or eliminate exposure. Frequent hand washing, especially before meals, is a very effective way to reduce exposure to lead. Also, wet mopping and wet cleaning of windows and floors will decrease the accumulation of lead dust. Periodically, toys should be washed or laundered. A healthy diet, high in iron, vitamin C, and calcium can limit the absorption of lead in the body.
Currently, Maryland law requires that ALL children should have a lead blood test done at the age of 12 months and 24 months. Talk with your child’s physician and request a lead blood test.
For More Information:
- Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at 1-800-370-LEAD
- Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) at 1-800-776-2706